At its Social Good Forum in New York today, Facebook announced Community Help, a tool for its users to offer help during natural disasters or terror attacks. When such an event happens, users in the affected areas will receive a prompt to turn on Safety Check and can either offer relief efforts like food or temporary shelter, or seek the help they need.
Starting today, Safety Checks will only be triggered by an algorithm that notices trending posts in the local community. Previously, when natural disasters or terror attacks happened, it was up to Facebook to manually turn the tool on. The company was met with allegations of Western bias when it opened Safety Check for the attacks in Paris but not for other locations like Beirut or Baghdad.
Now, Facebook will examine posts in a particular area and give users the option to turn Safety Check on if it notices that a crisis is occurring. Facebook says it works with an enterprise security software that notifies the company when an emergency is happening, then matches it with the response from Facebook users. This helps to both identify false positives and see if the community thinks a Safety Check is needed.
If Safety Check is activated, Community Help then offers an additional step by providing a dedicated space to connect users to each other amidst a disaster. Users can offer food, baby items, temporary shelter, and transportation, or put out a request for them if they’re the one in crisis.
Community Help will undergo tests in December and launch early next year globally.